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INDIA: Peeling a dead fish

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

INDIA: Peeling a dead fish

The villagers' protest against the absence of reasonable settlement for the land and livelihood lost to the Omkareshwar and the Indira Sagar Dams in the Narmada Valley project has thus far fallen upon a blind and deaf government. The agitation, though has received wholehearted support from a section of the Indian civil society, has failed to move New Delhi or Bhopal.

New Delhi yesterday was busy trying to defend the country's Prime Minister for the flank the Prime Minister's Office and the government he allegedly leads received globally, through an article in Washington Post. The administration in India is rigged; from foundation to sealing by corruption is not news, though it was so for the Post.

The Post is yet to understand that aliens speaking truth about India is prohibited. The concept upon which India was once founded that "truth triumphs" is as good as a dead fish. What lies underneath the mummified skin is the putrefied carcass of the once nurtured soul of a nation, long dead today. The pretence of national idealism is so pathetic, that it is best represented in the recent concerns expressed by New Delhi about threats to national security opened-up due to advancement of technology in telecommunications, which was sold without bounds to anyone who offered bribes to the union minister who lead the telecommunications department.

The worst threat to national security today for any country is an economic meltdown, which in India is possible since many of its key infrastructures are with corporate giants to whom they have been sold at below market prices. That these companies would not allow such a meltdown to happen is not because of their unqualified love to India, but due to the simple mathematics of investment security. Once the love is lost these companies would leave the carcass of India behind and move to new pastures.

The Post's description about the Prime Minister, that Dr. Manmohan Singh is a helpless underachiever and his office merely leads a team of ruthless and corrupt administration, is true. None other than the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has certified this. The CAG report also suggests that it was just not the Prime Minister's office that is responsible for this monstrous corruption, but also takes in its sweep the state administrations that had begged, lobbied and worked overtime to benefit from the corruption of short selling the country's natural resources. The amount of money lost to the exchequer in the latest of the two scams - on coal and telecommunications licensing - is so huge that if the looted national wealth were to be distributed among the citizens, all Indians would have been millionaires by now.

Shameful, criminal and hence punishable these deals are. The concept of conflict of interest does not exist in Indian administration. Yet, none would end up being made to return the money they have looted, neither will anyone be punished. Such distorted is the justice and accountability apparatus in India.

The entire scenario is such that for the past three weeks the drama enacted in the country's parliament by the opposition and ruling benches is like pretending to peal a dead fish. None would want to do that beyond the pretence, that they know whoever undertakes this task would end-up revealing a putrefied system, from which they all have criminally benefited.

It is in this backdrop that the selfless fight put-up by the brave villagers in Madhya Pradesh becomes relevant. The demand by these villagers is not for the separation from the Union to form a new state or to hang a politician. They are desperately demanding their government to help them find sustainable means to make a living, since what they possessed has already been lost to the alleged development projects and what they are left with will soon disappear under water. 14 days since the protest began, none from the government has bothered to listen though.

Yet the villagers have shown their resolve to continue with their protest, and the government has proved its neglect by ignoring them. What however the government does not know is that the villagers are fighting for their life and livelihood, which must be an alien concept for a corruption-rid government, since what many who run the government do not know is fighting for an upright cause, for instance unblemished honour.
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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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